Envisioning Southeast Asia


Let’s explore how, as a region, Southeast Asia has found ways to interact with the world, while creating common grounds for shared experiences.

This Unit will bring students closer to popular themes that resonate with their modern lives, such as the birth and growth of ASEAN Community, popular music, cinema, sports, art and heritage. These themes are examined through time from their historical roots to their contemporary expressions.


UNIT 4: Envisioning Southeast Asia




The Southeast Asian Games: History, sports and community-building in Southeast Asia


From fragmented to shared histories: Sepak takraw


Cultural heritage of Southeast Asia: Why does cultural heritage matter to us?


Contemporary art of Southeast Asia


Popular music in Southeast Asia: Between global and local cultures


Southeast Asia, film, and empire


  • Absolute monarchy: a form of government in which the monarch (king or queen) has unrestricted political power over the government and the people.
  • Angkor Wat: a temple complex in Cambodia that is the largest religious monument in the world. The name means “Temple City”.
  • Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC): a regional economic forum established in 1989 to take advantage of the growing interdependence of the Asia-Pacific. It aims to create greater prosperity for the people of the region by promoting balanced, inclusive, sustainable, innovative and secure growth and by accelerating regional economic integration.
  • Association: an organized body of people who have an interest, activity or purpose in common.
  • Capital city: the place where the offices and meeting places of a country’s government are located.
  • Charter: a document defining the formal organization of a corporate body, basically the constitution of that corporate body.
  • Community: a social unit made up of people who share something in common, such as values or identity.
  • Consensus: a general or widespread agreement about something.
  • Consensus decision-making: a group decision-making process in which group members develop, and agree to support, a decision in the best interest of the whole.
  • Constitutional monarchy: a form of government in which the monarch (king or queen) acts as the head of state. The powers of the constitutional monarch are usually restricted by the constitution.
  • Constitutional republic: a state where officials in government are elected as representatives of the people and must govern according to existing constitutional law that limits the government’s power over citizens.
  • Consultation: the process or action of formally discussing about something that is being decided.
  • Head of government: the head of government of a country is the person who runs the country. This is not always the same person as the head of state. Official titles include Premier or Prime Minister.
  • Head of state: the chief public representative of a country, for example, a president or monarch. May or may not also be the head of government.
  • Interdependence: the condition of being mutually reliant on each other.
  • Nation: a large group of people with common characteristics such as language, traditions, customs, habits and ethnicity. It has also been defined as a cultural-political community that has become conscious of its unity and interests.
  • Neutrality: the state of not supporting or helping either side in a conflict or disagreement.
  • Non-Alignment: an international movement that emerged in 1961 where member states are unified by a declared commitment to world peace and security and by the lack of formal alignment with or against any major power bloc.
  • Parliamentary republic: a type of republic that operates under a parliamentary system of government where the executive branch (the government) derives its legitimacy from and is accountable to the legislature (the parliament).
  • Power vacuum: a term referring to the condition when a government has lost control of authority or power and there is no new government available to replace it.
  • Republic: a country or state which is ruled by a government made up of elected individuals representing the citizens and where government leaders exercise power according to the law.
  • Socialism: a political and economic theory of social organization that advocates that the means of production, distribution and exchange should be owned or regulated by the community as a whole.
  • Socialist republic: a country or state that is constitutionally (by law) dedicated to the establishment of socialism.
  • South-East Asia: a geographical subdivision of Asia that includes the countries of South-East Asia: a geographical subdivision of Asia that includes the countries of Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Timor Leste and Viet Nam.
  • Sustainable development: a process for meeting current human development needs while sustaining finite resources necessary to provide for the needs of future generations of life on the planet.
  • United Nations (UN): an intergovernmental organization established in 1945 after World War II to promote international co-operation among its 193 member states.
  • World Trade Organization (WTO): an intergovernmental organization set up in 1995 to regulate international trade. It provides a framework for negotiating trade agreements and a process of resolving disputes.
  • ASA: the acronym for Association of South-East Asia, an association that was established in 1961 to strengthen cooperation among its members—Thailand, Malaya and the Philippines—in various spheres. It was a predecessor to ASEAN.
  • Cold War: the state of political or ideological conflict between the group of countries led by the former Soviet Union (USSR), which upheld socialism or communism, and by the United State of America (USA), which promoted capitalism.
  • Federation: the product of putting together a number of political or social entities to form a union.
  • Maphilindo: a federation consisting of Malaya, Philippines and Indonesia that was proposed in 1963. It represents a step toward the realisation of the idea of pan-Malayanism that goes back to the Rizal in the 1880s.
  • SEA Games: acronym for the South-East Asian Games, an Olympic-like, biennial (every two years) multi-sports competition among countries in South-East Asia.
  • SEAP Games: the acronym for the South-East Asian Peninsular Games, the former name of the SEA Games.
  • Assimilation : the changing of foreign influences to suit local conditions.
  • Diaspora : the spread of the people from the homeland to various places they settled in.
  • Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA): international governing body for football or soccer.
  • Indigenous : any element that is native to a particular place
  • International Sepak Takraw Federation (ISTAF): international governing body of Sepak Takraw. It is functionally similar to FIFA.
  • Localisation: the process whereby environmental or cultural factors modify foreign influences until it forms part of its
  • Sepak takraw: a volleyball-like game whose object is to kick rattan ball (or its synthetic version) and keep it airborne using feet and other parts of the body except arms and hands. It developed from indigenous games neighbourhood kids play by kicking and keep airborne objects such as a ball, a bunch of rooster feathers or any functionally similar object.
  • South-East Asian Peninsular Games (SEAP Games) : the multi-sports, Olympics-like, international competition among countries mainly in the mainland South-East Asia which began in 1959. It was the predecessor to the South-East Asian Games (SEA Games).
  • South-East Asian Games (SEA Games) : the multi-sports, Olympics-like international competition that replaced the SEAP Games (see above) since 1977.
  • Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA): a worldwide Christian movement or organization that promotes spiritual, social, intellectual and physical well-being among youth.
  • American Idol: a very popular US television programme based on the idea of the British programme, Pop Idol in which young people who want to be singers or entertainers have the chance to be chosen to perform on the programme in front of judges who select a group of the best. The worst performers in this first stage are often shown on the programme. In later programmes, members of the public can vote by phone for the person they think is best and the people with the most votes become the winners.
  • K-Pop: (An abbreviation of Korean pop; Hangul: 케이팝) is a musical genre originating in South Korea that is characterized by a wide variety of audiovisual elements. Although it comprises all genres of "popular music" within South Korea, the term is more often used in a narrower sense to describe a modern form of South Korean pop music covering a range of styles including dance-pop, pop ballad, electropop, R&B, and hip-hop music.
  • Keroncong: (pronounced "kronchong"; Indonesian: Keroncong, Dutch: Krontjong) is the name of a ukulele-like instrument and an Indonesian musical style that typically makes use of the kroncong (the sound chrong-chrong-chrong comes from this instrument, so the music is called keronchong), the band or combo or ensemble (called a keronchong orchestra) consists of a flute, a violin, a melody guitar, a cello in pizzicato style, string bass in pizzicato style, and a female or male singer.
  • Pop (popular) Culture: The accumulated store of cultural products such as music, art, literature, fashion, dance, film, television, and radio that are consumed primarily by non-elite groups such as the working, lower, and middle class.
  • Colonialism: a relationship between an indigenous (or forcibly imported) majority and a minority of foreign invaders. The fundamental decisions affecting the lives of the colonized people are made and implemented by the colonial rulers in pursuit of interests that are often defined in a distant metropolis. Rejecting cultural compromises with the colonized population, the colonizers are convinced of their own superiority and their ordained mandate to rule.
  • Cinema: Cinema, or motion picture, is the art of moving images; a visual medium that tells stories and exposes reality.
  • Culture: the system of shared beliefs, values, customs, behaviours, and artifacts that the members of society use to cope with their world and with one another, and that are transmitted from generation to generation through learning
  • Dutch East Indies/Netherlands East Indies: a former name (1798–1945) of Indonesia Also called the Netherlands East Indies
  • Empire: extend relations of power across territorial spaces over which they have no prior or given legal sovereignty, and where, in one or more of the domains of economics, politics, and culture, they gain some measure of extensive hegemony over those spaces for the purpose of extracting or accruing value
  • Nationalism: The term “nationalism” is generally used to describe two phenomena: (1) the attitude that the members of a nation have when they care about their national identity, and (2) the actions that the members of a nation take when seeking to achieve (or sustain) self-determination.